Thursday, January 31, 2008

No Standardized Test Left Behind

Exhibit A on why No Child Left Behind is crap: this story from Palm Beach, FL.

I'm immediately suspicious of anything involving science (which includes lots of math) and Florida officials, who as we all know can't count. But the idea that one all-encompassing "science" test can accurately assess student progress is obviously complete crap. Who but an idiot bureaucrat would put ionic chemistry and genetics on the same test? "Figure out how high a 0.4kg ball thrown at 5.5 m/s would go... oh, and describe the Krebs cycle while you're at it? Also name the moons of Pluto." I think having ADD would be an advantage for that test.

More reason why school evaluations ought to be done on a local basis. If you have to have testing-based assessments, I'd like to see each teacher write their own exams and have them approved by a local non-vested authority rather than to have one state-wide test that probably wasn't even written by experts or teachers. It'd be more reasonable, though, to give principals the right to fire sucky teachers, superintendents the right to fire sucky principals, and voters the right to fire sucky superintendents. If accountability to a state board is necessary, how difficult could it be for the state agency to send someone to inspect each school in person?


lsmsrbls said...

"'The way I see it, they're still learning science,' Principal Nathan Collins said."

I don't want him firing sucky teachers, because his views are probably the opposite from mine. Granted, he'll have to answer to someone this point my faith in school administrators isn't so high. At least the ones that make the news.

Mike said...

"School evaluations ought to be done on a local basis." Sounds remarkably like an issue of state and local rights vs. assumed federal responsibilities. Didn't the Republican party use to be all about that? Amazing how things change.

I've always said No Child Left Behind has nice ideals but the specifics are dead wrong. Rather than challenging students, we establish minimal standards that cater to the lowest common denominator.

When I was in school (this is sad, I'm already sounding like an old man), my teachers had the audacity to give us difficult work and expect that we could rise to the occasion: we studied Shakespeare in fifth grade (admittedly abridged, but still), read books like "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Catcher in the Rye" in seventh, read a college level evolution text "The Ascent of Man" in eighth. Sure, it was often painful, but man did we ever learn.

The challenge of public education is how a school can cater to the variety of needs and skill levels presented to it. However, aiming low is not the way to meet that challenge.

All of which is a rant that really has little to do with this post, other than being a visceral reaction to the student's "complaint" that the lesson plan is suddenly "easier than normal". Anyway.